Duclos Lenses has been expanding their rental inventory, slowly but surely. With a highly Zeiss oriented rental inventory, we decided to explore some other Germany options and offer a set of Leica R series lenses. The Leica R lenses were an excellent series that Leica dropped shortly after introducing. The glass was top of the line and second to none when it was new. Even by todays standards, the Leica R lenses easily hold their own in a world of nano crystal coatings and optical stabilization. The images these lenses produce is, for lack of a better description, dreamy. The details are held extremely well while still allowing for that warm softness that has been associated with film and motion pictures for so long. A lot of people will say that they are reminiscent of the look that you get with Panavision. That's probably because Panavision used very similar Leica glass for a lot of their own in-house lenses.
[caption id="attachment_1064" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="35mm f/1.4 Summilux on a Canon 5D MkII, photo taken with the 85mm f/1.4 Summilux (the same one from this set) with an Eos to M4/3 adapter on an Olympus E-PL1"]
Choosing the lenses was a little difficult. We had to split three factors; aperture speed, image quality, and availability. We chose a mixture of Summilux and Elmarit lenses that worked the best and balanced speed and quality. Obviously for lenses like the 19mm Elmarit, there was no Summilux, so we went with the slower Elmarit speed. A little background on the names of Leica lenses: The Summilux lenses are the very fast f/1.4 aperture lenses, Summicron is f/2.0, Summarit is f/2.5, Elmarit is f/2.8, and pretty much anything slower than that is an Elmar. Now that we have that out of the way, a little more on our lenses. The lenses that were available as a Summilux were chosen simply for their speed. Although great for low-light and nice shallow DoF, the Summilux optical performance is slightly less favorable at wide open (f/1.4) than say a Summicron (f/2). The Summicron lenses are usually considered the sweet spot with their very high image quality and relatively fast aperture. After some debate, we boiled our choices down to the following:
- 19mm f/2.8 Elmarit
- 24mm f/2.8 Elmarit
- 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit
- 35mm f/1.4 Summilux
- 50mm f/1.4 Summilux
- 80mm f/1.4 Summilux
- 100mm f/2.8 Elmarit
This set provided the best balance of optical quality and low-light capability. Once that was sorted out, we moved onto optimizing them for motion picture use. We went ahead with our standard Cine-Mod that we offer for just about any lens and added a standard 32-pitch focus gear, a common 80mm front diameter with 77mm filter thread, and declicked the aperture of each lens for a smooth, buttery iris movement. This brought each lens up to cinema standards but the lenses were still stuck in a Leica R mount which nobody, not even Leica, uses anymore. We tossed around the idea of chopping them up and putting a PL mount on them but decided that we had far too much on our plate with other projects at the moment. The amount of work that would go into redesigning the housings for the lenses as well as the cost of manufacturing a one-off design prevented us from perusing such a conversion. The cost would be substantial especially considering Leica has just recently begun to ship their new Leica Summilux C lenses. The last step in the process was to allow the lenses to be mounted to a variety of cameras. To do this, we installed custom Canon Eos mounts on each lens for use on cameras such as the 5D MkII, 7D, and just about any camera sporting an Eos mount, including the new Eos mount for the RED Epic.
Sourcing good lenses can be difficult. There are a lot of scams on eBay and similar sites, even reputable companies like B&H and Adorama let a few bad eggs slip through their QC. We were very lucky to find lenses in good condition that would make perfect candidates for motion picture work. The Cine-Mod process can be applied to just about any lens that goes through Duclos Lenses, but we wanted to offer a high quality set of lenses that were maintained professionally on a regular basis. If you want to take advantage of this set, contact the rental department at Duclos Lenses. Or click here.